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PPC for Lawyers: A Quick Start in Attorney Marketing

updated
November 14, 2022
24 min
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The American Bar Association reports that fewer than half of American law firms invest in marketing, which means that over 50% of all law firms in the U.S. have yet to set aside any funds for attracting new business. This oversight means there are opportunities for those who take advantage of pay-per-click (PPC) for lawyers. 

If you leverage PPC for lawyers and integrate it into your marketing plans, you can get ahead of 50% of the competition. After all, the majority of your clients will find you by searching online for legal services. When you take advantage of PPC, you can put your name in front of even more potential clients that may never have seen your website otherwise.

Pay-per-click is a form of online advertising in which you can create ads and bid on keywords to target potential clients. When someone searches for one of your targeted keywords, your ad appears next to the search results. You only pay when someone clicks on your ad. PPC advertising is an effective and cost-efficient way to bring in potential clients.

To get started with PPC ads for lawyers, you'll need to choose the right keywords, create targeted ads, and bid on those keywords. You can do this in-house or hire a PPC agency to manage your campaign. 

What Is PPC for Lawyers?

How PPC for lawyers works

PPC services for lawyers are aimed at internet advertising based on searches in Google and Bing. PPC ads work this way: your marketing company advertises and anytime someone clicks on one of your ads, they visit your website and hopefully take action, and Google or Bing charge you for every click.

For example, if you are a divorce lawyer marketing your services north of Newark, and someone is looking for a divorce lawyer in Passaic, your ad will come up at the top of a list of options. Each click will drive more traffic to your site.

PPC campaigns for layers make sense because of the very specific nature of the business. Most attorneys practice locally and within a certain specialty, which makes them perfect for PPC. PPC ads work on the same principle as other searches, but PPC guarantees that your ad is visible at the top instead of scrolling down to find your site.  

A few different factors are at play with pay-per-click for lawyers. Most importantly, you need to make sure that you’re using the right keywords — the phrases that prospective clients will search for when they need the services of law firms like yours.

Keywords

As you set out to choose your keywords, try to think like your potential clients. What terms would you use when searching for a lawyer? It's easy to think of words like "lawyer" or "attorney," but these non-specific keywords are highly competitive (and thus very expensive to get clicks on).

You also risk getting irrelevant traffic. That is, if you're a divorce lawyer, you don't want to attract users who search for "estate attorney" just because "attorney" is one of your keywords.

Instead, you should use these broad terms as a starting point, developing longer keywords that are more specific. For example, if you specialize in personal injury law, you might choose keywords like "personal injury lawyer" or "car accident lawyer."

You can use Google's Keyword Planner to find the most effective keywords. This free tool shows you how often people search for a particular phrase and how much competition there is for that keyword.

Creating Ads

Once you've picked out your keywords, your next step is to create ads that target those search terms. Your ad should be relevant to the keyword, and it should be clear and concise. You want potential clients to know what you do and why they should choose you.

In your ad, make sure to include a call to action, such as "Call us for a free consultation." You can use A/B testing, where you perform very similar campaigns utilizing slightly different ad variations, to see which one performs best. When creating your ad, you'll also need to choose where it will appear on the search results page. You'll also have the flexibility to just target people who have visited your site or are similar to your current clients.

Bidding on Keywords

When you're ready to start bidding on keywords, start with a firm budget. This budget can be small at first, and this helps when you want to try out several different variations to see which one works best. Begin by testing out the platform and seeing how well your ads perform. Then, increase your budget if you're happy with the results.

You'll also need to choose how much you will pay per click, which is called your bid. You can set a manual bid or let Google automatically set your bid based on your budget.

PPC can be a great way to attract new clients. By choosing the right keywords, creating relevant ads, and bidding on those keywords, you can reach potential clients searching for legal services online.

You want to do research and determine who your firm is competing with when it comes to SEO. You want clients to find you when searching for solutions to their problems and needs.

You want to be certain your law firm Google Business Profile is set up in the best possible way. You want to make sure to optimize Google Analytics, a tool that measures and tracks your results and progress.

You want to be certain the crosslinks, backlinks, meta tags, and other digital tools are perfect so that searchers find you and bring people to you. And you want to be absolutely confident that it's worth their while when someone clicks through to your website. You don’t want to pay to reach live ones only to find that you can’t land them.

Pros and Cons of PPC Marketing for Attorneys

When done well, PPC can be an excellent tool for law firms. Like every other form of advertising, PPC has advantages and disadvantages for lawyers, and you should ensure you understand these before laying out cash.

Advantages of PPC for Lawyers

Lawyer PPC advantages

Pay-per-click marketing benefits law firms looking to attract a specific type of client who is already searching online for an attorney. In other words, PPC targets individuals who need representation instead of corporations or governmental organizations. It's most advantageous in fields like the following:

Many law firms focus on PPC campaigns over other marketing efforts because of their undeniable benefits:

Flexible

You can adjust your budget, target demographic, and keywords at any time. This flexibility is perfect for lawyers, who often need to change their marketing strategies on the fly as their cases develop or as their firms grow. You can decide where and when your ads run, and there is no long-term contract.

Measurable

You can track how many people are clicking on your ads and landing on your website. In a PPC campaign, you're paying for each click. It's critical to take advantage of analytics tools that can track your progress. You can use these results to develop A/B testing for different ads, landing pages, and more to see what's most effective for your firm.

Fast

With PPC advertising, you can see results quickly, unlike with SEO campaigns — which can take months to show results. You can view statistics as soon as your campaign goes live and make adjustments almost immediately to get the most out of your campaign. This immediate feedback is one of the great advantages of pay-per-click marketing.

However, it is important to give each ad campaign some time to gather the data you need to make any major marketing decisions; you won't be able to make a good decision for your strategy after just a few hours of experimentation. Your demographic may be more active on certain days or even certain times.

Highly Targeted

Thanks to the mountain of data that search engines collect on their users, you can narrowly focus your ads on the types of people you want to reach. PPC ads allow you to target prospective clients based on location, demographics, interests, and device type.

Easy to Set Up

While you can make adjustments to your site's SEO and hope that it will have a significant impact on your search result rankings, it takes time for search engines to index your site and adjust your ranking appropriately. On the other hand, you can start running PPC ads within minutes and put your firm in front of potential clients immediately. This allows you to see real results without waiting days to weeks for Google to catch up to your updated content.

Disadvantages of PPC for Lawyers

Lawyer PPC disadvantages

While there are many pros to PPC, there are some cons as well.

For example, if you work in constitutional law, you probably won’t have the same numbers of potential clients doing internet searches as you would if you were in, say, divorce law. In this case, it’s probably not worth the time and money you’d invest for the few clicks you’d receive.

Other disadvantages include:

Cost

Clicks can be expensive. You pay for each click, but you can expect to convert only about 2% to 4% of visitors into engaged prospects. The others will simply walk away. However, those that do sign up with you will more than make up the difference.

Time

PPC only excels if you build a solid campaign and refine your ads and landing pages to maximize the number of leads and minimize the cost per lead, which requires time and effort.

Competition

While the majority of firms don’t advertise, those that do tend to be concentrated in the specialty areas where PPC works best. This will make it more expensive.

Organics

Many prospective clients will skip past the ads and go straight to the organically derived listings. In other words, some people prefer stuff they find doing simple searches over listings they perceive as ads.

PPC vs. SEO for Lawyers: Fast Results With PPC Advertising

Why spend any money on clicks when you can get them for free? Why not just use search engine optimization (SEO)?

Well, PPC is the quicker and easier route.

A law firm SEO campaign can bring in new clients; however, excellent SEO takes considerable time and effort. As discussed, it takes time for search engines to index your site and update your rankings.

And optimizing your website for search engines is no small feat; instead, it's a multilayered process that requires considering numerous factors like strategy, data interpretation, and positioning. You must develop the right keywords and constantly refine your approach, adjusting to the data.

On the other hand, if you want results faster than SEO, PPC ads are the way to go. They can get you to the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) almost immediately after spending mere minutes setting up your campaigns. Although it might be more expensive than SEO, PPC is worth the investment if you're looking for immediate results.

PPC campaigns are the best way to achieve both fast results and high rankings. 

Types of PPC Advertising for Lawyers

Search engine-based PPC is by far the most popular way to pay per click, but it’s just one of a handful of options for law firms.

Search Ads

Search Ads PPC for Lawyers

Google ads searches make sense as a form of paid-search advertising law firms have used with success. They work.

Bing paid-search advertising can be effective, too.

As we’ve mentioned above, these ads are based on keywords and pop up at the top of search engine lists when people type in certain words and phrases. They’re typically all text and usually look much like the organic lists that fall below them.

Potential clients will often click them thinking they are simply the result of their search, unaware that it’s paid advertising. They’re a very efficient way to get a lot of clicks very quickly. An added benefit is that they generate great user data, too, so you can get a better understanding of your potential clients and their wants and needs.

Search ads for lawyers can be a great way to market your law firm. You can efficiently and effectively reach your target market by targeting potential clients who are already searching for legal services.

There are a few things to remember when creating search ads. First, your ad should be straightforward and include a solid call to action. Secondly, your ad should be relevant to the keywords for which potential clients search. Finally, you should place your ad on relevant websites where potential clients are likely searching for legal services.

Creating a strong search ad campaign for lawyers can significantly increase leads and grow your law firm. Follow these tips to build a successful campaign.

Define Your Target Market

Who are you trying to reach with your search ads? When you know your target market, you can create ads that are more likely to resonate with them. For example, suppose that you specialize in family law. In that case, your ads should focus on keywords related to common family law concerns, like divorce and child custody.

Research Relevant Keywords

What keywords will potential clients use when searching for a lawyer? Use keyword research tools, such as Google's Keyword Planner, to find relevant keywords for your law firm. Once you have a list of relevant keywords, you can incorporate them into your ad campaigns.

Create Compelling Ads

Your ads should be clear, concise, and direct. Include a call to action, like “schedule a consultation” or “get a free case evaluation.” Without this prompt, potential clients may not feel compelled to take action. What's worse is that they may not be clear on what their next step is, what you can do for them, and how they can reach you.

Place Your Ads on Relevant Websites

You should place your ads on websites where potential clients are likely to search for legal services. The easy answer here is to ensure you place your ads on popular search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo. But you should also consider placing your ads on relevant websites in your industry, like Avvo or FindLaw.

Monitor Your Results

You can do everything else right, but if you don't measure the performance of your ad campaigns, you won't be able to tell what's working and what's not. And if you just let your ads run blindly, you won't know which underperforming ads to turn off to save money and which ads to increase the budget for to attract even more clients.

Are you getting the results you want? If not, make changes to your campaign, like tweaking your keywords or revamping your ad copy. Regularly monitoring your results will help you fine-tune your campaigns and get the most out of your search ads.

Search ads for lawyers can be a great way to market your law firm and reach potential clients. By following these tips, you can create a successful PPC campaign that generates leads and grows your business.

Display Advertising for Law Firms

Lawyer display ads are tools that allow you to show your ads on websites, apps, and other online platforms. These ads can take many forms, but they all have one goal: getting people to notice and interact with your brand.

There are two main types of display ads: static and animated. Static ads are simply images that you upload to the ad platform, while animated ads can include things like videos and interactive features. These latter types are growing in popularity as video transforms the internet, and it's worth considering implementing animated advertising to capture the attention of more potential clients.

Lawyers have used display advertising for centuries. Back in the day, these were the ads you used to see in newspapers and on the sides of buses.

Today's display ads are far more effective. They travel a lot further than those print rags and diesel buses used to and they are interactive.

Online display ads are the boxes or bars that you’ll find along the tops and sides of web pages. They may have engaging videos or animations. Display ads can be set to pop up when people are viewing other things on your site, putting your most important content right in front of your potential clients.

When potential clients click them, they’re taken right to a law firm landing page on your website, making for instant conversions. Used well, display ads can be very productive tools for law firms.

Retargeting/Remarketing

How retargeting works

When people search and surf online, they don’t always spend. More often than not, they simply wander someplace else before a deal is consummated. Remarketing and retargeting allow you to follow them, so to speak.

Law firm retargeting campaigns are often part of a long-term strategy. Say someone visited your site once (on average only 2 to 4% of all people who visit websites will take action during the first visit). Later, when they’re on the web, your ad will appear, reminding them who you are and what you can offer them.

These ads can be in the form of a banner or a video. They can be found on many third-party websites and videos on YouTube.

Retargeting is one of the most effective methods of PPC advertising. According to Blue Corona, viewing retargeted ads makes consumers 70% more likely to convert on your site. Retargeting can result in conversion rates that are ten times higher than traditional display advertising, according to Meazy

Google Local Services Ads (LSAs)

Search Ads PPC for Lawyers

Google Local Services Ads are a form of pay-per-lead advertising that works particularly well for lawyers because they aim directly at your service area. Most law firms are locally owned, and if you’re in Passaic, New Jersey, say, ads that appear in Seattle are unlikely to help you much.

You want your firm presented to people searching for representation in the area where you work, and that’s precisely the case with local service ads for lawyers. These ads appear alongside Google search results when people type in keywords.

Not only do they allow you to pinpoint your region very specifically, they add another benefit: you only pay when people contact you. If nothing sticks and no one clicks, you’re out nothing.

Key Components of PPC Campaigns for Lawyers

PPC critical components

Pay-per-click campaigns for lawyers can consist of any combination of these advertising elements. Some types will work better than others depending upon your location, your practice areas, and your goals. But an effective campaign should always include a few critical components.

Budget Managing

Your budget is one of the most critical aspects of your PPC campaign. It determines how much you can spend on each click, how many clicks you can get, and where you will show your ads. When setting your budget, you must consider how much you will spend on each lead. The cost per lead for lawyers can reach $200 or more, but this amount will vary depending on your practice area and location.

To estimate what you should be spending, look at your competitors' ads and see how much they're spending on each click. You can also use tools like Google's Keyword Planner to see how much other law firms spend on specific keywords.

Once you know how much you should budget, stick to that amount. It's essential to monitor your spending to use your money wisely.

Smart Keyword Research

Google and other search engines use keywords to help users find the information they want. When users type in keywords, the search engine displays a list of results that contain those words and phrases. The order of these results hinges on several factors, including the relevance of the keywords to the user's search query and the quality of the content.

To be successful in online marketing, you need to choose the right keywords. The following are some ideas for selecting effective keywords for your PPC campaign:

Target Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are more specific than general ones. For example, "divorce attorney in Nashville, Tennessee" rather than simply "divorce attorney." These longer phrases are often more effective because they are more likely to be relevant to a user's search query, and they are less competitive than general keywords. A good SEO strategy implements both sort-tail and long-tail keywords for maximum effect.

Avoid Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing is using too many keywords in your content to rank higher in the search results. This strategy was commonly used in the early days of SEO, when search engine algorithms weren't smart enough to pick up on it. But these days, engaging in this practice can only hurt your chances of ranking high on SERPs. It can also make your content seem low-quality, turning prospective clients away.

Use Keyword Research Tools

Take advantage of free and low-cost tools that can help you locate the best keywords for your campaign. Google's Keyword Planner and SEMRush are two popular options.

Consider Your Audience

When choosing keywords, it is essential to consider who your target audience is. What words would they use to search for your type of business? It's usually a good idea to prioritize layman's terms over legal jargon.

Test, Test, Test

After you have created a list of keywords, it is vital to test them to see which ones are most effective. You can create a small test campaign and monitor the results.

PPC campaigns can be an effective way to market your law firm online. By following these tips, you can create a campaign that will help you attract new clients and grow your business.

Quality Ad Copy

Your ads must closely match the keywords people use to search. So, if someone is searching for a “personal injury lawyer near me” an ad that states “Multidisciplinary law firm since 1983” does not provide as much context as “One of the top-rated lawyers specializing in helping accident victims get justice.”

A boring, poorly conceived and worse-yet poorly executed PPC law firm advertisement doesn’t help anyone. Actually, it does help someone — other attorneys. A bad ad will likely have an effect opposite to the one you want, driving people to the doors of the competition. You’d be buying ads for them.

It’s important to create an ad that people will actually click on. Potential clients want to understand more about you and your services before they’re willing to pick up the phone or fill out a contact form online.

You want it to be clear and informative. You want it to speak to your target audience, giving the potential client what they want to see. You want a call to action, which encourages people to seek out what you’re offering.

And you want it to link to a page on your website that closely matches their search query. If you send them to a generic page, like the homepage, they are unlikely to convert — and you are likely to waste a lot of money.

Landing Pages

So, you’ve come up with a great ad. It lands perfectly with your potential clients and your site all but explodes with incoming visitors.

Great! You better be certain that your site is ready for them. You don’t want to attract all kinds of prospects only to disappoint them. The best PPC advertising for lawyers creates interest and then keeps it, following through to conversion.

Your landing page is of primary importance. The old first-impression cliches go here: you won’t get another chance if people don’t like what they see.

Keywords are vital. Everything should work together in an integrated package. You want your site to be attractive, comfortable, and easy to navigate. You want to provide all the information people need to know to decide to hire you. Law firms should appear trustworthy, capable, and solid, and those are the messages your landing page should transmit.

You want the journey from ad to conversion to be as simple and straightforward as possible.

Here are some ideas for creating a good landing page:

  1. Write a great headline that accurately reflects the offer made in your ad.
  2. Keep your copy short and to the point. Potential clients will avoid reading long paragraphs on a landing page; they want to know what you can do for them fast.
  3. Use attractive visuals. A picture is worth a thousand words, and that’s especially true on a landing page. An image that catches the eye will hold attention longer than blocks of text.
  4. Use strong calls to action. You want people to know what to do next, and you want it to be easy for them. “Click here” or “Download now” are examples of effective CTAs.
  5. Keep your forms short. The fewer fields you require people to fill out, the more likely they are to complete the form. If you must have a long form, break it up into smaller, more manageable sections.
  6. Offer something for free. A white paper, e-book, or report is an excellent way to get contact information from potential clients.
  7. Make your page mobile-friendly. More people are using their phones and tablets to surf the web, so you want to ensure your site looks good on all devices.

Performance Monitoring

With PPC for lawyers, not only are you out there advertising, you’re getting a constant read on the effectiveness of your ads. Due to its very nature, pay-per-click for lawyers gives you a steady supply of data — you know exactly when people are responding and what they are responding to.

Monitoring your performance is essential to any successful PPC campaign. With data, you can see what's working and what isn't. There are a few things you should be looking at when you're monitoring your performance:

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

Your click-through rate is the number of people who click on your ad divided by those who see it. A high CTR means that people are interested in your ad and are more likely to convert.

Conversion Rate

A conversion rate refers to the number of people who take the desired action on your website divided by the number of people who click on your ad. A high conversion rate means that your ads are effective and that you're getting leads who are interested in what you have to offer.

Cost Per Lead 

The cost per lead is the amount of money you're spending on each lead. You can calculate this by dividing your total spend by the number of leads you've generated. A low cost per lead means that you're getting a good return on your investment.

To get started, log into your Google Ads account and select Reporting at the top of the page. From there, you can generate reports showing your performance over time.

Cost Per Click (CPC)

Just as it sounds, cost per click represents the amount of money your law firm pays for each hit — it's the pay in pay per click. The fee varies across platforms and by region. In this case, the lower the better.

Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)

CPA is how much your firm spends on getting a visitor to take action, such as placing an inquiry through your website’s contact us form. Like CPC, this will vary, and you want it to be as low as possible.

Quality Score (QS)

The Quality Score is a rating Google and other platforms give your ad. This rating is based on how relevant the ad is to what searchers are looking for. The higher your quality score, the less you'll pay per click — and the more likely your ad will be served up ahead of competitors. It's important to make sure your ad is as relevant as possible to achieve a high QS.

Return on Investment (ROI)

This is the classic Business 101 metric: how much you are getting for what you are paying. Is the return — the number of new clients for your law office — worth the amount you are spending to get them? ROI is one of the most attractive things about PPC.

How Much Does PPC for Attorneys Cost?

You've decided that pay-per-click could be a great investment for your firm. But how much should you expect to spend? It depends. Your practice areas — both your geographical location and your specializations — determine what you'll pay for PPC. Again, it's a supply-and-demand issue.

The competitiveness of the keywords has a significant influence. Some keywords are more expensive than others. Law firms in big cities have higher CPCs because of the increased competition between lawyers.  

For example, according to recent data from SEMrush, a click for "New York accident lawyer" cost $293.75 during the study period. On the other hand, a click for "Montana lawyer neighbor's dog keeps coming into yard" would almost certainly be under $1.  

If you want to rank with the keywords "personal injury lawyer," you can expect to pay more per click than ranking as an "equine lawyer." Of course, other factors affect the cost, including the quality of your ad and how you optimize your website.

Your company must monitor costs and compare them to the results.

Making the Decision

If PPC makes sense for anyone, it makes sense for lawyers. Pay-per-click advertising is an extraordinarily effective marketing tool when used well. You can connect with exactly the individual who is looking for your services in your area, and you can do so cost-effectively.

PPC gets results for lawyers. Because so few firms even have a marketing budget, you begin well out in front, and it gets better there. But PPC only works if you do it right. Make sure you’re capable of creating an effective campaign.

If not — if, like so many attorneys, you're better at practicing law than designing ads — you should hire a professional law firm digital marketing agency to make the most of this exciting tool. (Hint: find one with expertise in legal marketing.)

At Grow Law Firm, we help build a great PPC strategy for law companies. Give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you to improve your PPC.

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    Sasha serves as Managing Partner for Grow Law Firm, a Chicago-based digital marketing agency focused solely on specialized growth strategies for attorneys and their practices.

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